Ultraviolet Defense Mechanism

Ultraviolet Defense Mechanism
The human eye is an incredible creation. It not only allows us to sense the visual world around us, but its connection with the brain is amazing. The image that falls on the back of your eye is inverted, and your brain turns it over so that you see everything right side up. Most animals have eyes that do unique things, but not all of them use visible light. Ultraviolet light has a higher frequency than the light we can see. That means it is more energetic than the human eye can detect but less energetic than Xrays. Many animals use ultraviolet light as tools to enable them to survive. Some birds can see in the ultraviolet as do monitor lizards, some foxes, and some snakes. Sometimes ultraviolet vision helps them to find food. Other times prey use it as an ultraviolet defense mechanism.

Among the things those ultraviolet-seeing predators eat are lizards. A lizard called the blue-tongued skink lives on the ground throughout much of the continent of Australia. This lizard would seem to be an easy target for predatory birds and ground-dwelling animals. However, it has an ultraviolet defense. The tongue of the blue-tongued skink is highly efficient at reflecting ultraviolet light. When threatened by a predator, the lizard will open its mouth wide and stick out its tongue. The tongue will give off a blast of reflected ultraviolet light. Experiments show that birds and ground animals that see in the ultraviolet are startled by the sudden burst of ultraviolet radiation and veer away from the lizard.

One of the problematic things in designing any natural environment is building a system where living things can survive over the long term. If there is not a balance between predator and prey, the result is disastrous. Many years ago someone introduced rabbits to Australia. They had no natural enemies, and they reproduced so rapidly that soon the whole continent was overrun with them.

God has designed prey and predators in such a way that, if humans don’t mess it up, the environment and all of the living things in it can survive indefinitely. We are only now beginning to understand how difficult that is, even involving ultraviolet defense mechanisms. We need to allow the Earth to continue to be fruitful.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology journal and reported on CNET.com

Suicide Rate Increase

Suicide Rate Increase
When a celebrity commits suicide, it makes front page news and dominates the tabloids for months. We still hear about Robin Williams’ suicide which happened in 2014. Now we have Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain dominating the news during the early part of June. What many of us don’t realize is that 44,965 Americans killed themselves in 2016 and that from 2010 to 2016 there has been a 70% increase in suicide among girls ages ten to 19. The nation as a whole has seen a 28% suicide rate increase from 1999 to 2016.

The experts are trying to explain all of this. Certainly, there is more than one factor involved, but we suggest that a major factor in our country’s strong movement away from faith in God to a rejection of religion as a whole. Jesus Christ has given us a purpose in life. The unique teaching of Christ is that everyone, no matter what their situation or appearance or abilities, has a purpose in living. In addition to that, Christianity provides a way to deal with the failures in life. No one needs to live with a load of guilt. We can be forgiven of our sins and overcome our guilt, and we can turn the mistakes of the past into a ministry to help others walking the same path that we walked.

What can you expect if you are taught that you are an accident, that you have no purpose, and that life is merely a chance-driven battle for survival of the fittest? It is not hard to see the attractiveness of ending your life when you have no purpose, and you face struggles that seem impossible to overcome. How could we not have a suicide rate increase?

I speak as one who attempted suicide when my atheist belief system couldn’t handle the reality of the life I was living. I know how hopeless life can seem to be without faith. Having lived as a Christian who has still had to confront all the negatives in life, I now know that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from Time magazine, June 18, 2018, page10.

Giza Pyramids and Answers

Giza Pyramids
Someone said, “If you don’t believe in something you will believe anything.” A lightning rod for people looking for ways to deny the biblical account or the existence of God has been the three giant pyramids near Cairo, Egypt. The Giza Pyramids are listed as one of the “Seven Wonders of the World.” We have seen books, documentaries, and articles attempting to prove that space aliens built the pyramids, or that a super-advanced lost civilization was responsible. Research has gradually answered most of the questions concerning those impressive structures.

The three Giza Pyramids were constructed during the 70 years between 2575 and 2465 B.C. There is no doubt about their purpose. They were tombs for royalty. The blocks that make up the pyramids were cut from quarries along the Nile River. They were moved by men or cattle using sledges. One particular building material was white limestone which faced two of the pyramids (Khufu’s and Khafre’s). It was quarried at Tura on the Nile’s east bank eight miles away from the pyramid site. Granite beams for inner chambers were quarried in Aswan which was hundreds of miles away. The Egyptians dug canals and harbors and used cargo boats to move those huge stones.

In 2013 a papyrus was found stuffed between stones in a building at a harbor used in the construction of the Khufu pyramid. The papyrus is a day-to-day log by an inspector named Merer who directed a cargo boat crew transporting the white limestone from Tura to the Giza Plateau. Archaeologists are making more discoveries as research continues.

The Giza Pyramids are amazing, and they tell us that ancient humans were very intelligent and very concerned about what happens when this life has ended. There were no aliens, super-humans or divine spirits involved in the pyramids. Those structures were built by humans desperately wanting to find a way to a life that is better than this life when they died. We are blessed in our day to have the Word of God that tells us how to live successfully in this life, and how to live eternally.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Reference: Discover magazine, July/August 2018, page 30-33.

DNA Barcoding and Evolution

DNA Barcoding and Evolution
The journal Human Evolution published an article about new research on DNA barcoding. There are two different types of DNA. Most of us know something about nuclear DNA which is the genetic blueprint for every single individual passed down from parent to offspring. The complete DNA blueprint contains more than three-billion letters and is packed into the tiny nucleus of every cell in our bodies.

The second type of DNA is found in the mitochondria of cells. The mitochondria generate energy for the cell, and mitochondrial DNA contains 37 kinds of genes. One of those is the COI gene which is used to create DNA barcoding. You could compare these DNA barcodes with the barcodes on products which we purchase from a store.

Researchers at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario have analyzed the COI of 100,000 species by examining millions of DNA barcodes. They conclude that most animals appeared simultaneously. Researchers credited that to a sudden event that caused large-scale environmental trauma and wiped out a majority of the Earth’s species.

This is another blow to the belief of those who say gradualism is how the diversity of life-forms came into existence on the Earth. The DNA barcoding research supports the view that catastrophic events gave rise to sweeping changes on Earth which led to the emergence of new species including humans.

As more and more evidence becomes available, the credibility of the biblical account grows. Future data will help us understand more about what has happened in the past to give us the planet we call home.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Male Chauvinism/Feminism Conflict

Male Chauvinism/Feminism Conflict
We live in a world of extremes. As women have become more aggressive in confronting their sexual abusers, there is collateral damage on all sides. Extremists in the feminism camp are using the sexual abuse issue to attack the male gender as a whole. Extreme male chauvinists view the female gender as generally inferior to themselves and want to maintain their superior position. Those who are insecure about their sexual identity find themselves being pushed by extremists on all sides of this male chauvinism/feminism conflict.

The abuse that is present in the world around us is extreme, and the victims of the abuse are looking for reliable answers. We are constantly getting e-mails and letters from people who have received terrible advice from mental health experts in the secular world. We believe that Christianity has an answer to all of the confusion.

The incidents of abuse are undeniable, and the abuse occurs in every facet of human experience–including religion. In the Old Testament, the problem of abuse was identified with the Hebrew word “alal” meaning to roll oneself on or upon. It is used in some horrible stories of rape such as Judges 19:25 and in battle scenes such as 1 Samuel 31:4. In the New Testament, the Greek word for abuse is “arsenokoited,” and the use is totally sexual. Abuse is always wrong, and it is strongly condemned by the Bible however and wherever it occurs.

So how does Christianity offer any help on this issue? The answer is in the identification of roles. One of the victims of the collateral damage produced by the conflict between extremists on opposite sides of the male chauvinism/feminism conflict is young men who haven’t learned their life role. Women have a specific, unthreatened role given to them–that of being a mother. They can choose whether to accept that role, but their gender has a built-in guarantee that no male can threaten. A woman can be artificially inseminated and give birth to a child. A man has no such option.

As women have gained their rightful role in the business world, males have found more and more problems with their self-image. They realize that there are always women out there who can do the job as well or maybe better than their male counterparts. The question is whether some of the physical abuse on women has come from males who have no role that they can claim as theirs, but they do have enough physical strength to subjugate a woman.

From the very beginning, God instituted a system that would work well for both genders. Genesis 2:24 tells us that male and female were joined together as one giving them independence from their parents. That is not just a sexual reference, but rather it presents the family as the basis of stability for both sexes. The entire biblical account shows man not using what God gave him correctly, but allowing sin to tear at the fabric of the one thing that would give men stability and purpose. In the New Testament, the roles of men and women were refocused. Polygamy would no longer be tolerated. Loving and submitting to one another was the guide (See Ephesians 5:21-33). The value of all humans is the same (See Galatians 3:27-29). Women could be involved in the business world as was Lydia and the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31:10-31.

The one role given to men that would be unthreatened by women was providing loving leadership to the family and the church. In 1 Timothy 2:8-15 the male leadership is identified as giving males a unique role. That passage ends by reminding the reader that women also have a role guaranteed in childbirth. The next chapter shows who the ideal leader of the church and the home should be. In chapter 5 Paul approaches the failures of humans to keep God’s plan in operation no matter what the circumstances.

There should be no male chauvinism/feminism conflict if people follow God’s plan and respect the needs of others. Selfishness in church and home leadership is a cause of male insecurity and tends to produce more abuse. The June, 2018, issue of Christianity Today carried an article titled Mending Men’s Ministry which addresses these issues in the denominational world. In the biblical world, the healing of men will come when we simply love God and others enough to do what God says and the male chauvinism/feminism conflict will end.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Belief in God

Belief in God
This ministry has existed for 50 years with the fundamental purpose of showing those willing to look at the scientific evidence, that God does exist and that the Bible is His Word. Various religious people have frequently told us that what we are doing is useless because everyone really has a belief in God. Data that shows that 40% of Americans say “none” when asked about their religious affiliation. But the critics argue that even people with no church connection still have a belief in God.

One of the more reliable organizations that gathers demographic data on religious issues is the Pew Research Center. The June 2018 issue of Christianity Today published a report from Pew Research in which 4700 adults were asked if they “believe in God as described in the Bible.” Almost half, 44% of the respondents, said they did not. The obvious devil in the details is whether what they think the Bible describes is actually the way the Bible describes God. (If you think the Bible describes God shown in the picture above, you are mistaken. We have a video that deals with that point and you can watch it HERE.) It is evident that a growing population in this country have faith issues with belief in God as the essential starting point.

We maintain that there is a tremendous need to educate people on the evidence for God’s existence, and what the Bible actually says about God. We have a free correspondence course available on our doesgodexist.org website. There is absolutely no charge or obligation of any kind. The course is written at a college level and is graded by John Clayton, the director of the Does God Exist? Ministry. We also have other written courses available through the mail with postage paid envelopes provided. Join us in learning and growing.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Religious ID Card Required

Religious ID Card Required
In the movie “God’s Not Dead” there was a depiction of a professor who required his students to write a statement disavowing belief in God if they wished to pass the course. Since that movie, there have been debates about whether people should be required to have a religious ID card to identify their beliefs.

In May, 2018, Christianity Today published a report that Pakistan now requires citizens to disclose their religion on official documents, government job applications, and voter registrations. One Islamabad judge has stated that applicants for certain positions need to affirm that Muhammad was the final prophet or be considered betrayers of the state.

This is an issue that should be a grave concern to any American–be they an atheist or a believer. The movement to have gender and racial balance in all areas of life might in the future to require religious balance as well. We could be on the road to government requiring a religious ID card to show our religion or lack of religion as Pakistan has apparently embraced.
–John N. Clayton

Legalizing Sin Industries

Legalizing Sin Industries - Gambling
We now have casinos in virtually every state in the United States. The government will soon approve online gambling. The push for state-sanctioned prostitution is gaining momentum. Legalized marijuana is now a major industry. The trend is certainly toward legalizing sin industries.

Here in Michigan, local governments are being swamped with applications for permits to open marijuana shops and dispensaries. From a biblical and logical viewpoint, we seem to be on a collision course with total collapse. Students of history tell us that the fall of Rome did not come from without but from within. The moral temper of the people became so bad that the entire structure collapsed.

The usual justification for legalizing sin industries is that the government can control (and tax) the industry when it has a legally sanctioned framework. Following that argument, prohibition was a failure because those promoting alcohol just went underground and the use of alcohol continued. The comparison is made to marijuana by those promoting the legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug. As is our usual approach to any issue, we ask the question, “What is the evidence?”

1. Does legalization result in control and produce fewer problems? We rarely hear any comment from the “little people” about what prohibition was like. By “little people” I mean folks who work a regular job, raise kids and try to be active in local affairs. What we read about in the media are the rich and famous who had the money and the time to go to the “speakeasy,” those and who were involved in organized crime, and the “high rollers.” The men and women who worked on the assembly line or as clerks would testify that prohibition did reduce drunkenness in all age levels. The alcohol-related crime was high among the high rollers but not among the everyday people.

2. Already we see the failure of the recreational marijuana craze in Los Angeles. Marijuana at the government approved stores is selling for $25.00 per gram, and on the street, the same thing can be purchased for $5.00. On the street, you are not paying state excise tax.

3. The problems of lung damage continue to exist, and smoking marijuana is illegal in smoke-free areas or any other place where tobacco is banned. Legalizing marijuana does to eliminate the health hazards.

4. Legalization of marijuana increases usage which in turn produces sharp increases in cases of car accidents, abuse of other people, the neglect of children, and crime. Statistics from police agencies show sharp increases in these areas when marijuana is legalized. We also see cases where children ingest marijuana that is left unsecured around the house.

5. The use of any drug puts the person at risk of being led to another more effective drug. Gateway cases with marijuana are increasing, and the cost is already creating a burden. States adjacent to states where marijuana is legal have been threatening lawsuits because of the increased burden produced by people carrying drugs across state lines. This also creates problems for families and businesses where recreational drugs have created financial hardship and psychological problems.

Legalizing sin industries has never worked, and for Christians it is especially important to “avoid all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Plants Spread Their Seeds

Plants Spread Their Seeds - Sandbox Tree
Plants use a wide range of methods to spread their seeds. Some plants have seeds encased in a shell or a fleshy bundle that various animals, including humans, like to eat. We are all familiar with nuts and fruits, but the basic design of these foods is to spread their seeds. We live in an area where poison ivy is a real nuisance, and getting rid of it this year won’t stop it from being a problem next year because birds eat the berries on the plant and replant the ivy all over our property. For good or bad, plants spread their seeds.

In our front yard, we have maple trees, and we all know about the helicopters that maple trees produce. We have cottonwood trees which have white flocculent packets that drift across the landscape carrying their seeds with them. We also have several plants with seeds encased in a bundle with barbs that stick to our clothes. Plants spread their seeds by many methods working together to make our world green and able to support a host of animal life.

Plants that shoot their seeds use one of the most interesting methods of seed disbursal. The seed pod in the picture is from the sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) nicknamed “the dynamite tree” because of the explosive way the pods burst open. In the segments of the pod, the outer and inner layers grow at different speeds. This creates tension as the surfaces push against each other. When the seeds are ready, the pressure becomes so great, that the capsule explodes. The sections that were initially convex rapidly flip to concave in a process known to engineers as snap-buckling. That explosion can shoot the seeds 100 feet (30 m) at speeds of 160 miles (257 km) per hour.

Some of us remember “jumping disks” we had as children. Two metals were fused together with the metals having different coefficients of linear expansion. If you rubbed the side of the disk with your finger making it hot, it would expand, and you could bend it, so the disk had tension produced and held by the expanded metal. As the disk cooled, it would eventually snap back to its original shape, causing it to jump into the air.

Scientists have tried since the time of Charles Darwin, who had a fascination with the Venus flytrap, to understand how a plant with no muscles could shoot seeds or snap closed to trap insects. It has only been in the last 20 years that high-speed cameras which can take 10,000 frames per second have allowed researchers to understand how this incredible design works.

Measurements of snapping plants show a g-force of 2400. Fighter pilots can handle about nine gs before passing out. A wide variety of designs allow plants to shoot seeds or snap shut to trap food. The American dwarf mistletoe uses a chemical heat system that explodes seeds. The wild petunia has 20 disk-shaped seeds in hooks. When the seed pod gets wet, it splits and launches the seeds like Frisbees, but much faster with revolution rates of nearly 100,000 rpm. The Venus flytrap apparently uses an electrical signal, but scientists are still studying it to learn exactly how it works.

Plants spread their seeds by many amazing mechanisms God has built into them, and which scientists are still trying to understand. Even more amazing is the complexity of the life-support systems on Earth that allow us to exist.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
For more on his topic, see “Physics of Rapid Movement in Plants” in Europhysics News
and a wonderful article “Meet the Speedsters of the Plant World” in Science News

Canyonlands Trip 2018 Closed

Canyonlands Trip 2018 Closed
CANYONLANDS TRIP 2018 CLOSED
Our “Does God Exist?” trip into the Canyonlands of Arizona and Utah is closed for 2018 because we are sold out (the bus is full). If you wanted to go but didn’t get your reservation in, you can contact Queenslander Travel (877-865-6711) and be put on a waitlist, but otherwise, you will need to wait until 2019.